They broke from their careful ranks and began to scramble over the stone arch, a few more falling screaming into the unknown depths. Callindra forced herself to ignore them and to focus on the ranks of bipedal lizards who turned as one to focus on what had been happening behind them.
Emerald green ichor oozed from their mouths and they moved in earie unison. Their motions were uncoordinated, almost as though someone was controlling them and didn’t quite know how to make them move properly. Most unnerving was the absolute silence that accompanied their approach.
With a shout of defiance, Callindra pushed past the frightened townsfolk and imposed herself between them and the monsters. She looked back at the pale faces of the guardsmen who she had been scouting with and growled, “Get up here and defend your family’s you cowards!”
This challenge seemed to stiffen their spines a touch and they lost some of their hesitancy. The movements of their enemies began to smooth out but their unified movement remained, many of them falling off into the yawning chasm when the edge didn’t match up with their ranks. Tryst and Vilhylm moved to flank her and bolts of Arcane Power flew from Cronos where he stood at the bridge head, chivying the people across.
“We need to keep them moving and confused.” Vilhylm said, “If they keep having to move in other directions perhaps we can cause more of them to fall.”
With a grin, Callindra darted forward and summoned a vicious blast of wind from Brightfang’s edge, blowing half a dozen of them over the edge, but unfortunately this put her close enough to them to be nearly surrounded. When she thought she might be overwhelmed, the contingent of guards she had shamed into fighting slammed into the monsters in a loosely organized wedge, hacking limbs from bodies and opening dreadful wounds as they chopped their way to her side.
“You’re late!” She said, grinning fiercely at their leader. He grinned back, throwing a mock salute when the claws of one of the lizard men wrapped around his neck from behind, cutting his throat to the spine and spraying her with his arterial blood.
It was all they could do to break free. The floor became slick with blood and viscera, many of their companions were left motionless on the ground behind them and Callindra noted absently that she had sustained several rather severe wounds. She had no time to feel the pain now though, and Jorda’s gift was doing its best to staunch the bleeding.
A shout from the bridge made her turn. The last of the refugees was at the midpoint and Cronos was frantically waving at them. Tryst and Vilhylm were fighting side by side, Tryst protecting the spear wielding Vilhylm with his shield while the tall, dark man efficiently skewered their enemies from a distance, an old military technique.
“Fall back to the bridge!” She shouted to her dwindling escort. “I can hold them here briefly!”
Some of them hesitated, a move that cost some their lives and others just wounds. The rest fled in a disordered mob, leaving her to face the ravening horde on her own. Raising Brightfang over her head, she whipped him down in a series of slashing arcs, calling on the Wind to gift her with speed. She could feel it wrap around her, calling to her, entreating her to trust it.
To the horror of the onlookers, she turned and sprinted down the line of enemies fast enough that her long braid streamed out like a banner, the end snapping in the wind. Instead of turning aside, she simply ran off the edge of the chasm closely followed by the two score monsters that were close on her heels.
The winds rose beneath her, blowing her hair out of its braid to lash around her in a confusing tangle, but as her enemies plunged silently to their deaths, she kept running. Somehow the breezes gathered beneath her, allowing her feet to land on nothing but air. It took an enormous amount of effort to maintain the concentration though, and by the time she had reached the bridge a mere score paces away, her body was trembling from the effort.
Strong hands steadied her, “That was quite a stunt.” Vilhylm said.
“We can’t relax yet.” She replied grimly, pointing to where the first line of monsters were advancing up the bottom of the bridge.
They moved much more carefully and slowly than they had before, and not with as much unified purpose. Whatever held sway over them was having to be precise lest it lose the majority of its fighting force to the depths of the chasm.
“So what was this plan of yours Cronos?” Callindra said, her voice tight with barely controlled fear and obvious exhaustion.
“We wait. Just a few moments more should suffice.” He began chanting under his breath the way he always did before he used magic. She never understood why he needed to do such things, but then again he seemed disturbed by her silent magic and her lack of a spell book.
When their foes were three blade lengths away, Cronos finished his spell. A jet of thick black liquid shot from his hands to coat the narrow bridge with a slippery tar like substance. The lead lizard men continued forward and lost their balance immediately, falling into the depths below.
“OK, now we run before the spell wears off!” Cronos said, grinning like a child.
Wishing she had a way of collapsing the entire bridge, Callindra turned to go. She didn’t look back.
After a week of travel, they had managed to get the majority of the refugees to the farm of Tom Gild. The farmer had survived the riots in Levora but one of his sons had been slain and another was gravely wounded.
“I’ll welcome th help!” He had said, smiling at the several hundred people. “Hells, I didn’t make it out with my team, barely survived myself. Without the horses I was wondering how I’d be able to get th planting done, but if these folk are willing we can do it by hand and have enough that none of us need go hungry.”